Betrayed by rival ruling families of Italy.Version reviewed - Xbox 360
What is Assassin's Creed II?
The follow-up game to Ubisoft Montreal’s open world third person action-adventure takes place during the Italian Renaissance period and follows the story of Italian nobleman-turned-assassin, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, in a tale of family-fuelled vengeance and conspiracy.
Through the use of the Animus 2.0, a device which allows the retrieval of genetic memory, modern day bartender Desmond Miles is transported back to 15th century and the era of Leonardo De Vinci. In the guise of the Ezio, you embark on a series of dare-devil quests across the regions of Venice, Rome, Florence and Tuscany as you seek to enact revenge on the families that have executed your father and two brothers.
Core gamepaly remains largely the same as the first game, combining exploration, combat, stealth, objective-based missions and free-running, as you traverse church rooftops and explore the cities from up high, taking in views of the spectacular Italian architecture, away from the gaze of enemies. Quests generally combine path-finding skills, combat and environmental awareness as you seek to make the most of Ezio's free-running skills to scale buildings and leap across the city smoothly, swiftly and effectively carrying out errands and unravelling well-guarded secrets.
Missions range from racing a family member to the top of a church spire, to delivering letters across the city against the clock, to assassinating a set target. There are approximately 15 different mission-types in total and hundreds of side missions that are tied in with the main storyline. There’s also an element of puzzle solving as you work out pathways to reach high points in the city, or aim to reach set destinations without getting seen by guards; later on in the game there are more in-depth environmental puzzles, for example, when you need to path-find swiftly against the clock in order to discover a secret crypt.
Ezio controls almost identically to Altair in the last game, as he uses his range of acrobatic skills to traverse the city, but combat has been enhanced introducing more variety to his moves, including the ability to grab hold of an opponent and throw him, head-butt him or knee him. A variety of new weapons is also available, including the likes of an axe or a hammer.
Money also now plays a significant part in the game. You can now visit doctors, tailors and blacksmiths to acquire upgrades, paid for with money earned through carrying out quests, looting dead bodies or finding one of the treasure chests scattered around the city. You can even own property and earn money through rent, invest in renovations - bringing the city back to its former glory - or redecorate your home space, the Villa Auditore, with famous renaissance paintings and collected objects.
Though Assassin's Creed 2 doesn't have a multiplayer mode, replay value can be had through the search for collectibles, including feathers, or blueprints that you can give to Leonardo Da Vinci who'll then make something for you. You can also search for wanted posters, which when found and taken down reduce your notoriety in the city, thus giving you a better chance of moving around without alerting guards. As as assassin it pays to be discreet, so utilsing cover by hiding in a group of courtesans, or jumping into a cart of hay, or even throwing some money into a crowd to distract guards, are all part and parcel of the Assassin's Creed II experience.
Gameplay Impressions overleaf...